ByDesign Grade 8, Chapter 1, Lesson 3, Page 42
This presentation explains a specific Explore-a-Lab in the 8th grade ByDesign textbook, providing teachers with background information and detailed instructions for the activity. Why create a presentation on this particular Explore-a-Lab? Because there are important things to understand about phylogenetic analysis and whether or not it actually provides evidence of evolution. (Phylogenetic analysis is a process used by evolutionary scientists to group organisms using multiple shared characteristics and then infer which organisms are most closely related.)
The Explore-a-Lab asks how many ways the same organisms can be grouped to form different cladograms. Students sort kitchen utensils several different ways and then compare the results. In the process, they learn that the placement of utensils depends on which characteristics are used in the sorting process. The same is true of the cladograms made by evolutionary scientists, and although they may be useful tools for classification, they do not actually provide evidence of evolution.